I tend to avoid rookies in fantasy NBA leagues – for a variety of reasons. Their playing time can be hard to predict. First year guards tend to struggle with turnovers – a big problem in some leagues. And the NBA game can be a major learning experience for rookie fours and fives; many are used to getting by on size and strength alone and have to learn how to compete against players they can’t simply out-muscle.
This season, I was even more skeptical of the rookie class. On top of the normal challenges first-year players face, this year’s rookies didn’t have the Summer League or much of a training camp to get ready for the NBA. And the compressed, lockout-shortened schedule means teams have very little in-season practice time. As such, I missed out on some rookies that have been absolutely outstanding to this point, including Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, and MarShon Brooks.
Regrets? I have a few. But then again… missing out on Irving and company might not turn out to be as bad a decision as it looks right now. The rookie wall is looming.
So Kevin Love stepped on Luis Scola last night. And no, that’s not a metaphor.
The officials missed Love’s stomp completely; he wasn’t even called for a foul. I imagine the league will make up for their oversight with a hefty fine, maybe even a suspension.
The play immediately made me think of Christian Laettner’s foot to Aminu Timberlake’s sternum during the legendary Duke/Kentucky game in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
Laettner would go on to hit the game-winner in that one; Wildcat fans are still bitter that Laettner wasn’t ejected.
And lest I fall into the “compare the white guy to another white guy” trap… the other example that jumped to mind was Charles Barkley, who did something very similar in the Dream Team’s Olympic opener against Angola.
The latest version of my About.com mock draft – updated to reflect the results of the NBA Draft Lottery. This is my first attempt to match players to teams and their needs, styles and draft philosophies.
Cleveland (from LA Clippers): Kyrie Irving
PG – Duke Fr.
Huge break for the Cavs, who move up to the top spot with the pick the acquired from the Clippers. They’re a near-lock to take Irving here, and rightfully so; he’s the consensus top talent in this draft.
Minnesota: Derrick Williams
PF – Arizona So.
Tough break for Minnesota. The obvious pick here is Williams, but the T-Wolves are already three-deep at forward Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph. David Kahn is reportedly courting trade offers.
Utah (from New Jersey): Brandon Knight
PG – Kentucky Fr.
Utah reportedly loves Jan Vesely, but this is too soon. Rumor is they prefer Knight to Kemba Walker.
Cleveland: Bismack Biyombo
C – Congo Intl.
A reach? Perhaps. But teams love the raw-but-athletic center prospect, and the Cavs – with low expectations – could bring him along slowly.
Toronto: Kemba Walker
PG – Connecticut Jr.
NCAA champion floor-general would be a nice fit, and allow Raptors to move Jose Calderon. Anyone else flashing back to Damon Stoudemire? Or am I just old?